Efficiencies plan drawn up by DH and leadership bodies to span the next five years, plus the rest of today’s news and comment

Live logo

5.35pm The six national NHS leadership bodies and the Department of Health are working on a “opportunity map” for efficiencies over the next five years, according to a note in NHS England’s board papers for its meeting tomorrow.

This will have “agreed high impact actions for 2015-16, and a proposed approach to engaging widely with frontline NHS organisations.”

5.30pm HSJ’s list of top chief executives is available exclusively on our app.

Download the app here. Once downloaded, navigate to “Magazine” to read it.

4.52pm Responding to today’s announcement by NHS England on the launch of a mental health taskforce to develop a national strategy for mental health, Stephen Dalton, chief executive of the Mental Health Network, said: “I congratulate NHS England for establishing the taskforce. This sends a very clear message about the importance of mental health and the priority it must be given. I look forward to working with colleagues on the taskforce.

“This needs to signal an end to institutional bias against mental health. Now we need political leadership. Turning around years of underfunding and disinvestment in mental health services will demand a sustained programme of investment.”

Mr Dalton will be a member of the taskforce. It will be chaired by Mind chief executive Paul Farmer.

Other members of the taskforce will include Sarah Brennan from Young Minds, Mark Winstanley of Rethink, Tom Wright of Age UK, Lord Victor Adebowale, Sarah Yiannoullou of NSUN, and senior representatives from the British Psychological Society, the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, local government, the Royal College of GPs. 

4.39pm Also in The Times, more men than women in the “sandwich generation” provide day-to-day help for ageing parents while supporting their own children, a study indicates.

Nearly three quarters of fathers said they helped to “maintain the wellbeing” of a parent or a parent in law, compared with two thirds of mothers, according to Mintel, the market research company.

4.17pm The Times reports on the heckling of David Cameron by pensioners over the NHS yesterday, amid what the paper describes as “growing doubts inside the Tory part about how it is confronting Labour’s top election issue”.

In an analysis piece, the paper’s political editor, Francis Elliott, says that while the chancellor George Osborne signed off an extra £8bn in extra funding as a “down payment” on the NHS Five Year Forward View, last week’s budget was “silent” on Labour’s “biggest weapon of all – the charge that the NHS isn’t safe with the Tories”.

He writes: “With a big announcement expected, the changes remain high, therefore, that Mr Cameron will indeed commit to extra NHS funding and challenge the Labour leader to match the commitment and say how he would pay for it.”

4.05pm NHS England is establishing a taskforce to develop its new five year national strategy for mental health, the organisation has announced.

A statement released by NHS England this afternoon said the taskforce will “explore the variation in the availability of mental health services across England, look at the outcomes for people who are using services, and identify key priorities for improvement”.

“It will also consider ways of promoting positive mental health and wellbeing, ways of improving the physical health of people with mental health problems, and whether we are spending money and time on the right things. It will report later this year,” the statement

The taskforce is expected to report its findings later this year.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind, has been appointed to chair the taskforce. Jacqui Dyer has been appointed vice chair. Ms Dyer is an elected local councillor and previously co-chaired the Lambeth Black Health and Wellbeing Commission. She has a background in mental health commissioning.

Other members of the taskforce will include Sarah Brennan from Young Minds, Mark Winstanley of Rethink, Tom Wright of Age UK, Lord Victor Adebowale, Sarah Yiannoullou of NSUN, and senior representatives from the British Psychological Society, the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the NHS Confederation Mental Health Network, local government, the Royal College Of GPs.

The taskforce will also include representation from specialist doctors, charities, service users and their families.

Launching the taskforce, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: “The tide of public opinion is shifting in favour of mental health and wellbeing.

“People are rightly no longer willing to put up with mental health as the poor relation to the rest of the health service. That’s a hugely powerful impetus for improvement, creating the opportunity for this taskforce to chart a shared direction for us all over the next five years.”

NHS England’s national clinical director for mental health Geraldine Strathdee, said: “This is a big moment for mental health.

“We can tackle major challenges which include maximizing personalized, least restrictive home care, improving crisis care, reducing the 20 years premature mortality and improving transition from children’s to adult services.”

Mr Farmer said: “Our taskforce will aim to drive change in the delivery of services so they are first-rate for all ages.

“Stigma around mental health is starting to reduce as professionals and the public begin to realise that we must treat mental health with the same level of respect and importance as physical health.

“This is a chance to turn the growing awareness of mental health into action and effective delivery across England so that people can get the right help at the right time, investing in preventing problems becoming crises.”

3.42pm Also in The Guardian, a growing market in online sales of often contaminated human breast milk – fuelled in part by bodybuilders and adults with a baby fetish – poses a serious risk to public health, according to experts.

Researchers from the University of London’s school of medicine and dentistry were so alarmed by their initial findings that they wrote an editorial in the British Medical Journal to warn of the dangers of buying breast milk online before their study was completed. The editorial says breast milk sold online should be screened for diseases such as hepatitis, HIV and syphilis.

3.19pm The Guardian reports that the NHS needs to play its part in the fight against obesity by banning fast-food outlets such as McDonald’s and Burger King from hospitals, MPs have said.

The Commons health select committee calls for the ban as part of a raft of measures to tackle the growing number of Britons who are becoming dangerously overweight.

In a report on the impact of physical activity and diet on health, the committee endorses the view of Professor Theresa Marteau, an expert in public health at Cambridge University, that hospitals are being negligent by allowing such firms to operate in places that promote good health.

2.56pm The Department of Health has appointed Tim Irish as a non-executive director of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

He will join the organisation on 1 April 2015 for a three-year term.

Mr Irish was chair of the medical technology company Nexstim plc from 2012 to 2015.

He was also global head of marketing and strategy for Phillips Medical and a vice president for GE Medical in Europe.

He has also a number of non-executive board level roles in technology businesses.

NICE chair David Haslam said he is “delighted to welcome Tim Irish to the NICE Board”.

“His extensive experience at healthcare companies will be highly valuable. I’m sure he will play a key part in helping NICE to lead the way in encouraging high-quality care for all across the health and social care sectors.”

Mr Irish said it is “a fascinating time to join NICE”.

It plays a hugely important role in helping the NHS and social care organisations to deliver the best care available. I hope my experience working in the healthcare industry will bring a valuable perspective.”

2.15pm Here is more detail on the new board at Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust.

Chief executive, Hisham Abdel-Rahman, will remain in post but a new chair will be joining - Alan Burns, to relpace Mike Burrows. New non-executive directors will also be appointed.

Mr Burns is a retired NHS chief executive and has also served as vice chair of the NHS Confederation, chair of the National Commissioning Board for Research and Development in Service Delivery and Organisation, and chair of the NHS Forward Thinking Group.

Mr Burns said: “This is a great opportunity and a challenge. I am delighted to be joining the trust to lead and support Hinchingbrooke staff at all levels to deliver improvements which ensure our patients receive the best possible care. I look forward to meeting all those connected with the hospital to understand the issues and their aspirations and plans for the future. I hope to meet members of our community at the first public board meeting for the new NHS board on 1 April, where we will enact some legally necessary decisions, but also begin the process of setting strategic objectives and direction.”

Mr Hisham Abdel-Rahman said: “I would like to thank Mike Burrows and his non-executive team for their hard work and support over the course of the management franchise. As the franchise draws to its close, I am very pleased to welcome Alan to lead the new NHS trust board. We look forward to working with him and our new non-executive directors to progress our quality improvement plan and deliver high quality services to our patients in all areas.”

The TDA is appointing an improvement director for the trust, and will be announcing more details shortly.

2.00pm A new board has been appointed to run Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust, led by Alan Burns as chair.

Mr Burns is the former chief executive of Trent Strategic Health Authority.

The new board will come into effect from 1 April.

Here is the written statement delivered to the House of Commons.

1.00pm An independent commission to try and drive improvements in urgent and emergency care for older people in and outside of hospitals is being launched today by the NHS Confederation.

It will bring together leaders from hospitals, community services and local government, specialist clinicians, older people’s advocates and commissioners and will be chaired by former Heart of England Foundation Trust chief executive Mark Newbold.

The commission will hold evidence sessions, consider best practice examples and produce interim findings before publishing final recommendations by the end of the year.

Commission chair Mark Newbold said: “Much guidance on improving urgent care services for older people has already been issued, with key principles established and widely agreed, but progress on putting in place new services that require NHS organisations to work together has been slow. By using the broad membership of the NHS Confederation we can address the reasons for this, and produce recommendations that are both clinically guided and supported by all parties in local health communities, including hospitals, local authorities, community providers and General Practitioners. This will greatly assist with implementation of these vital services.”

12.50pm All 32 London clinical commissioning groups and NHS England’s London arm have set out plans to drive the improvements called for by the NHS Five Year Forward View and the London Health Commission.

Every CCG has committed 1 per cent of their budgets to create a shared fund to make improvements to healthcare across London. NHS England said this would come to “in the region of £20m”.

NHS England was unable to confirm how much it would contribute to the fund at the time of publication.

12.05pm NHS England and Monitor are facing calls to exempt ‘vanguard’ areas from requirements to tender services, amid fears that procurement processes could undermine efforts to establish integrated primary, community and acute care models.

The calls from providers in the vanguard relate specifically to community services, many of which are on contracts due to expire at the end of 2015-16.

The central agencies are being called on to give a clear indication that clinical commissioning groups will be safe from legal challenge if they prioritise redesigning services with existing providers, rather than going to market to establish new contracts for community services.

11.00am The Care Quality Commission will fail to hit a high profile target to inspect all acute trusts before the end of this year, the watchdog’s chief executive has said.

In an exclusive interview with HSJ, David Behan said the regulator was making the admission to be “open and transparent”.

Sluggish recruitment and a heavier than anticipated workload were given as two of the reasons behind the failure to hit the target.

10.15am The Telegraph reports that David Cameron was jeered and heckled by an audience of pensioners yesterday as he was accused of failing to give a straight answer on the NHS.

In scenes reminiscent of the slow hand-clapping that greeted Tony Blair at the Women’s Institute, the Prime Minister was met with a rowdy chorus of “rubbish!” and “answer the question” after being challenged over the exodus of NHS staff to agencies.

10.05am At 11am today an HSJ webinar will explore the true costs of treating visitors and migrants not entitled to free NHS care. The panel will be made up of David Savage, head of legal support for the NHS Standard Contract at NHS England, Sir Keith Pearson, adviser to the Department of Health’s Visitor and Migrant Cost Recovery Programme, and Kate Dixon, deputy director and programme lead of the Cost Recovery Programme. Register here.

10.00am The Daily Telegraph reports that David Cameron is expected to apologise today for a NHS mistake in the 70s and 80s that inadvertently infected thousands of patients with deadly diseases.

The Prime Minister will express his profound regret on behalf of the Government that more than 2,000 Britons died after being given contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.

The apology comes ahead of the publication of an 1,800 page report by the Penrose Inquiry, which has spent six years looking into the scandal.

7.00am Good morning and welcome to HSJ Live. In case you missed it yesterday, sixteen local authorities failed to pass on hundreds of thousands of pounds specifically allocated by central government to fund NHS complaints advocacy services, HSJ can reveal.

One council had retained 79 per cent of the money it received.

According to data collected by Healthwatch England under the Freedom of Information Act, shared exclusively with HSJ, 13 councils failed to hand on more than £50,000 each to their advocacy provider and three failed to pass on more than £100,000